Former prison gets Hollywood treatment

Jim Broadbent in Get Santa
Jim Broadbent in Get Santa

Keen eyed Lancastrians may have spotted some famous faces in the city over the past few weeks.

Lancaster Castle’s former prison facilities became the setting for a forthcoming Hollywood Christmas movie produced by legendary director Sir Ridley Scott.

British actors Jim Broadbent (Harry Potter and Moulin Rouge) and Warwick Davis (Willowand Star Wars), who star in the movie - called Get Santa - could be seen around Lancaster shopping and dining out along with other cast and crew members.

The filming was kept tightly under wraps, and it is not clear whether Ridley Scott, famous for films like Bladerunner, Alien and Gladiator, himself made an appearance at the castle.

His production company - Scott Free London - took a week to decorate the whole of A Wing in the former prison, which closed in 2012, and filming lasted nearly two weeks, finishing on Saturday.

Sources say the team needed a prison to film in and after considering venues in Yorkshire, decided to have a look at Lancaster and realised it was the perfect location.

The film, directed by Christopher Smith, begins when nine-year-old Tom discovers Santa (Broadbent) in the garden shed just days before Christmas.

Escaping the wreckage of his sleigh and desperate to return to Lapland, Santa has come to ask Tom and his dad Steve for help.

But Steve has just been released from prison and he just wants to stay out of trouble and spend time with his son.

Only after Santa is arrested - for trying to liberate his reindeer from Battersea Dogs Home - can Tom persuade Steve to carry out Santa’s plan.

A spokesman for Lancaster Castle said: “They locked down the set incredibly tightly.

“Tours and court cases needed to continue so everything had to be kept completely under wraps.

“The best thing from our perspective is that it created an income for the castle.

Lots of local companies were hired including cleaning and catering, a lot of the cast and crew decided to stay in Lancaster at various hotels, and basically it brought a lot of income into Lancaster at one of the quieter times of the year.”